School Record 97 Student-Athletes Earn Big Ten Distinguished Scholar Awards

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July 18, 2017

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State student-athletes have smashed another school academic record, with 97 Nittany Lions earning Big Ten Distinguished Scholar Awards for the 2016-17 academic year.

The record total is an increase of 16 from last year's then-record total of 81. Penn State's five highest Distinguished Scholar totals have come in the past five years, increasing 30 percent since the 2012-13 academic year (68 to 97). Nittany Lion students have broken the school mark for honorees in four of the past five years.

The Nittany Lions' 97 Big Ten Distinguished Scholars were the second-highest total among all conference institutions for 2016-17.

The Big Ten Distinguished Scholar Award is presented to student-athletes who have recorded a minimum grade-point average of 3.7 or higher during the previous academic year and are letterwinners. (Complete list of Penn State honorees below).

The 97 Big Ten Distinguished Scholars continues what has been a record-setting year for Penn State student-athletes, including re-writing marks with a 3.14 combined grade-point average in the spring semester (record 66 percent with 3.0 GPA), 114 graduates in May and a record-tying 299 Academic All-Big Ten honorees.

Penn State Highest Big Ten Distinguished Scholar totals (+30% Since 2012-13):
2016-17: 97 (School Record)
2015-16: 81
2013-14: 73
2014-15: 69
2012-13: 68 (first year with men's and women's hockey)

Nine Nittany Lion student-athletes posted perfect 4.0 grade point averages this past year: Chase Berger, men's ice hockey; Madison Day, women's lacrosse; Haleigh Echard, women's soccer; Kate Granahan, women's golf; Mackenzie Hornibrook, women's swimming and diving; Geno Morelli, wrestling; Noah Roberson, men's gymnastics; Devon Van Cura, wrestling and Tyler Yazujian, football.

The women's track and field team led all Penn State squads with 10 Distinguished Scholars. The NCAA semifinalist women's lacrosse squad had nine honorees and the NCAA Champion wrestling team was third with seven Distinguished Scholars. The field hockey and women's soccer squads were next with six recipients apiece, followed by the men's and women's hockey teams and women's swimming and diving squad with five Distinguished Scholars each.

Field hockey, men's hockey, women's soccer, women's track and field and wrestling all won Big Ten titles this past year.

Russ Mushinsky, Director of the Morgan Academic Center, reported that seven Penn State teams either led or were tied for first among all Big Ten schools in the number of Distinguished Scholars in their respective sports: women's basketball, women's golf, men's hockey, women's lacrosse, men's tennis, women's tennis and wrestling.

The record 97 honorees boosts Penn State to 604 Big Ten Distinguished Scholars since the program was established by the Big Ten Faculty Representatives in 2008-09 to supplement the Academic All-Big Ten program.

Similar to the Academic All-Big Ten honor, Distinguished Scholar Award recipients must be letterwinners in at least their second academic year at their institution. The Distinguished Scholar Award encompasses only students with a minimum GPA of 3.7 or higher for the previous academic year, excluding summer school.

Penn State student-athletes, who have captured 31 Big Ten Championships and conference-best eight NCAA titles since the 2012 fall semester, consistently have been among the nation's most successful in earning their degrees. In addition to the recent spring semester GPA records, a sampling of their recent academic accomplishments includes:

-In November 2016, the NCAA released its annual national graduation rates study, which revealed that Penn State student-athletes earned a Graduation Success Rate (GSR) of 89 percent compared to the 84 percent average for all Division I institutions for students entering from 2006-07 through the 2009-10 academic year. The 89 percent graduation figure was just one point off Penn State's 90 percent all-time graduation record mark and one point higher than the 2015 figure.

- The NCAA reported in May that 18 Penn State teams earned perfect Academic Progress Rate scores of 1,000 in 2015-16, up from 13 in last year's report and 10 squads in 2013-14, representing a 44 percent improvement over the past two years.

-A school record 114 student-athletes graduated in May, breaking the previous mark of 109, set during the 2013 spring semester and tied last year. Including the 2016 fall semester, a total of 142 student-athletes have earned their diplomas thus far in 2016-17, with additional graduates in August.

-A school record 145 Nittany Lion students from the spring/at-large sports earned Academic All-Big Ten accolades. The 145 honorees boosted Penn State to 299 Academic All-Big Ten honorees in 2016-17, tying the record set last year. The previous high among the spring/at-large sports was 140, also set in 2015-16.

-Penn State is second among all Big Ten institutions with 5,875 Academic All-Big Ten honorees since 1991-92, its first year of competition in some Big Ten sports.

-Penn State has had 198 CoSIDA Academic All-Americans all-time, including five honorees in 2016-17, which ranks fifth among all NCAA institutions and fourth among Division I schools.

Ricky DeRosa
Ricky DeRosa

Penn State 2016-17 Big Ten Distinguished Scholars

Blake HodgensSo.Kinesiology
Men's Basketball
Alex ZhaoSo.Business Administration
Women's Basketball
Sarah McMurtrySo.Accounting
Kaliyah MitchellSr.Childhood And Early Adolescent Education
Lindsey SpannSr.Advertising/Public Relations
Men's Fencing
Gavin TurnerSo. Science
Women's Fencing
Teodora KakhianiSr.Communication Arts And Sciences
Field Hockey
Shay CannonJr.Biobehavioral Health
Carly CelkosSr.Rehabilitation And Human Services
Colleen ConwaySo.Mathematics
Kirsten GochnauerSr.Biobehavioral Health
Cassandra KlineSo.Biobehavioral Health
Lisa WintersJr.Business Administration
Gordon BentleySr.Finance
Brandon SmithSr.Nutritional Sciences
Tyler YazujianGr.Information Sciences And Technology
Women's Golf
Kate GranahanSr.Recreation, Park And Tourism Management
Jaclyn RogowiczSo.Finance
Kamerine TaylorSo.Finance
Lauren WallerSo.Biobehavioral Health
Men's Gymnastics
Michael BurnsSo.Biological Engineering
Noah RobersonJr.Biomedical Engineering
Christopher SandsSo.Kinesiology
Wyatt TyndallSo.Kinesiology
Women's Gymnastics
Mason HosekSo.Communication Sciences And Disorders
Nicole MedvitzSr.Management
Chanen RaygozaJr.Communication Arts And Sciences
Men's Ice Hockey
Chase BergerSo.Finance
Ricky DeRosaSr.Management
Chris FunkeySo.Finance
Kevin KerrSo.Finance
Matt MendelsonSo.Finance
Women's Ice Hockey
Laura BowmanSr.Biochemistry And Molecular Biology
Kelsey CrowSo.Psychology
Amy PetersenSr.Risk Management
Kelly SewardSr.Geography
Bella SuttonJr.Biology
Men's Lacrosse
Grant AmentSo.Economics
Dylan FouldsSo.Supply Chain And Information Systems
Kevin HillSo.Finance
Hunter PearlJr.Finance
Women's Lacrosse
Taylor BleisteinSr.Criminology
Kayla BrisolariSo.Supply Chain And Information Systems
Madison DayJr.Biobehavioral Health
Katelyn GarveySo.Supply Chain And Information Systems
Lucy HauboldSo.Health Policy And Administration
Delaney MuldoonSo.Psychology
Katie O'DonnellJr.Advertising/Public Relations
Abigail SmuckerSr.Biobehavioral Health
Shelby WellsSr.Kinesiology
Men's Soccer
Samuel BollingerSr.Chemistry
Brennan IrelandSo.Management Information Systems
Austin MaloneySo.Finance
Women's Soccer
Brittany BasingerSr.Kinesiology
Isabelle ClaussJr.Biology
Haleigh EchardJr.Childhood And Early Adolescent Education
Megan SchaferJr.Communication Sciences And Disorders
Marissa ShevaSo.Security And Risk Analysis
Charlotte WilliamsSo.Advertising/Public Relations
Jessica HaugSr.Recreation, Park And Tourism Management
Madison SeifertSo.Supply Chain And Information Systems
Samantha ShanahanSr.Nutritional Sciences
Mollie SorensonJr.Human Development and Family Studies
Women's Swimming and Diving
Casey FrancisSr.Kinesiology
Mackenzie HornibrookSr.Supply Chain And Information Systems
McKayla MawnJr.Biology
Kaitlin SalokySr.Biobehavioral Health
Katelyn SowinskiSr.Biobehavioral Health
Men's Tennis
Christian LutschaunigSr.Accounting
Constant Morrison De La BassetiereSo.Accounting
Women's Tennis
Ekaterina BlikSr.Psychology
Hannah KratkyJr.Advertising/Public Relations
Devan McCluskeySr.Journalism
Samantha TutelmanSr.Finance
Men's Track and Field/Cross Country
Daniel ChisenaSo.Security And Risk Analysis
Peter HugheySo.Communication Arts And Sciences
Women's Track and Field/Cross Country
Tessa BarrettJr.Management
Tal Ben-ArtziSr.Psychology
Lauren CostaSo.Communication Sciences And Disorders
Rachael DeCeccoJr.Industrial Engineering
Jillian HunsbergerJr.International Politics
Kasey KempSr.Kinesiology
Megan OsborneSr.Rehabilitation And Human Services
Elyse SkerponJr.Health Policy And Administration
Cara UlizioSr.Supply Chain And Information Systems
Kayla ZoschgSr.Letters, Arts, And Sciences
Men's Volleyball
Frank MelvinSo.Accounting
Calvin MendeSo.Security And Risk Analysis
Women's Volleyball
Taylor KrauseSr.Childhood And Early Adolescent Education
Bryanna WeiskircherJr.Communication Arts And Sciences
George CarpenterJr.Kinesiology
Anthony CassarSo.Psychology
Dominic GiannangeliSo.Mechanical Engineering
Geno MorelliSr.Energy Business And Finance
Jason NolfJr.Kinesiology
Zain RetherfordSr.Finance
Devon Van CuraJr.Chemistry
Bold indicates 4.0 GPA in 2016-17